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Trump reverses decades of policy. TRANSCRIPT: 7/26/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Guests: Jamie Raskin, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Adam Federman

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  And that is ALL IN for this evening. 

"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts now with Ari Melber, in for Rachel. 

Good evening, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Chris.  Thank you. 

And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.

I am Ari Melber.  Rachel has a night off.

We are in a breaking news Friday. 

In the last few hours, we`ve gotten a ruling from the Supreme Court on Trump seizing funds for part of the border wall.  It`s not a full victory for the administration but it does reopen a door, and we have more later. 

Plus, Donald Trump using executive power to undercut science.  This is a story you may not have heard about anywhere else today.  The reporter who broke it will join us live this hour. 

So, we have all of that, but we begin on Capitol Hill where there are actually new steps towards an impeachment probe.  And that is not what the conventional wisdom held would happen when Special Counsel Robert Mueller finished testifying Wednesday.  But now, as the week ends, the number of Democratic members of Congress backing an impeachment probe has grown as the chairman who would lead any such probe, Jerry Nadler, is now formally invoking the I-word in a new court filing. 

Now, here`s the count, five House Democrats have now stepped out in favor of an impeachment inquiry, including Congressman Kathleen Clark of Massachusetts, a member the House leadership, also the highest ranking Democrat to publicly take this stance. 

Then, you have three more House Democrats today announcing support for an impeachment inquiry -- Annie Kuster, Chris Pappas of New Hampshire, and Mike Levin of California. 

So, you take that together and now you have about a hundred Democrats backing some kind of impeachment probe.  That is the raw tally, the political nose counting context of this and for the House Democrats, though, that`s not all, because there is a new legal move today as they try to pry more evidence loose from the White House and the Justice Department, taking their case to court to get redacted grand jury material.  This is the stuff that actually informed the grist of the narratives in the Mueller report and it picks up the fight over the very ways that Attorney General Barr held back parts of this report. 

We all remember the redactions and he did allow members of Congress to see behind some of these redacted pages.  So, members of Congress have already seen more than say average citizens.  But Mr. Barr never let anyone see the grand jury information and while these materials generally restricted from the public, it`s not always restricted as I mentioned from these members of Congress. 

You can just think about recent history.  Republicans welcomed it.  That same kind of grand jury material when Ken Starr handed over not only a report but all his grand jury material.  No redactions, no delays that time.  So, now, you have House Democrats insisting they need the same type of material for their work right now as a co-equal branch of government.

And this is not a theoretical debate at this point.  This is the basis for the hardball of holding Mr. Barr in contempt and now in this legal case in today`s court filing.  Democrats pressing they must get the material, so they can properly carry out their investigations of the president and his campaign.


REP. JOE LOFGREN (D-CA):  You also described in your report that then Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort shared with a Russian operative, Kilimnik, the campaign strategy for winning Democratic votes in Midwestern states in internal polling data of the campaign, isn`t that correct? 


LOFGREN:  Did your investigation determine who requested the polling data to be shared with Kilimnik? 

MUELLER:  Well, I would direct you to the report that`s what we have in the report and with regard to that particular issue.

LOFGREN:  We don`t have the redacted version this may be another reason why we should get that for volume one.


MELBER:  We don`t have the redacted version.  Maybe we should get that, because in the report of the version that Congress got and that we have seen publicly, there is information potentially revealing who it was that requested Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort share this prize internal polling data with this Russian operative and perhaps why because you see there we know what was alluded to, but it is redacted.

As you see on your screen, the reason it was redacted is because of grand jury material. 

Now in the court filing today, the House Judiciary Committee argues there are several episodes described in the Mueller report that have this kind of information redacted and the committee needs it.  They need it because the DOJ will not allow prosecution of a sitting president and they explained the House is the only institution of the federal government that can now hold President Trump accountable for these actions.  They also point to the planned questioning a former White House counsel Don McGahn, the star witness to the obstruction portion of the Mueller report, cited over times.

House Judiciary making the case that if there is grand jury testimony about the president`s knowledge of these events, and how his campaign approached all of it, that would shed light on what the president might have been trying to cover up with his repeated attempts to, of course, interfere with and obstruct a Mueller investigation, those attempts made yes, back through Mr. McGahn.  His testimony has been blocked by the White House.

Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler announcing today, compelling McGahn`s testimony is the next legal battle.  So, all of that together is the what the evidence and in court more than in politics, it`s not just the what, it`s the why.  Why do you get typically secret evidence?  What is the authority?  Where in law or the Constitution does it give Congress this kind of power?  And is it so clear that a judge can then order around the DOJ or the White House to provide it? 

And this is -- this is a really interesting part today, the why, because in this potentially you know arcane legal brief, the why went off like a rocket today, the why is the impeachment power, which is in the Constitution.  It`s one of congress`s greatest potential powers, right up there with making war or taxes, which are two other things by the way the founders put mostly in Congress`s hands.

So, you have the Democrats brief today, stating clearly the House must have access to all the relevant facts and consider whether it exercised its full Article One powers, including a constitutional power of the utmost gravity, approval of articles of impeachment.  There`s that word.

And in this new file, the committee argues here basically for the first time it is entitled to the grand jury materials under this very specific exception to grand jury secrecy.  This court authorized to disclose these materials because the committee seeks to use them preliminary or in connection with a judicial proceeding, the committee investigating whether to recommend articles of impeachment.  And this why argument explains Congress has a stronger hand when demanding information, when it has a committee that seeks to use that very information linked to a judicial proceeding.  The committee here conducting this investigation.

So, this is crucial.  This is not a aside this is not a throw every reference at the wall kind of argument.  This is not -- we really want this stuff.  Let`s mention any potential maybe rationales and you know a footnotes or oral argument in the court.  This is now today for the first time the core of what the House says it`s doing.  We could put these headers back up, and you`ll see from the new piling an investigation regarding impeachment is preliminary to judicial proceeding the Democrats say, or this other heading addition area committees investigating whether to recommend articles of impeachment.

And just to drive the point home, they even quote the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee in 1974, writing to the judge to request grand jury materials related to the Watergate burglary and the judges order releasing grand jury material.  As a strategy, this whole option has long been available, and that`s known not only the lawyers or Watergate experts, it`s probably known to you as a news consumer.  Rachel right here has reported on how the best legal argument for getting this grand jury material is for Democrats to establish their in the turf, in the ambit of a judicial proceeding, aka an impeachment probe. 

Now, this is still a summer Friday.  Congress is still giving itself a six weeks recess and let`s be honest, this isn`t maybe the typical way that political parties do announce a formal impeachment probe, especially with a speaker who keeps tamping down expectations for all of this.  So, what is this is this a step towards an impeachment probe or a pre impeachment strategy or some kind of on ramp to impeachment.  Is impeachment a spectrum? 

Well, the explanations of today`s judiciary committee press conference sort of ranged.


REPORTER:  Given what you`ve said about this filing comments that you`ve made in hearing recently and are you all beginning to shade in June impeachment inquiry even if you haven`t held the formal vote of the House?  Is that what`s going on here?

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY):  What`s going on what`s going on -- 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We don`t need it.

NADLER:  What`s going on is that I think too much has been made of the phrase in an impeachment inquiry.  And you may want to call that an inquiry or not now whether you call that an inquiry or whatever you want to call that, that`s what we`ve been doing and we are doing and will continue to do.

REPORTER:  You`re saying there`s no difference between what you`re doing now and an impeachment inquiry, correct?

NADLER:  In effect.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD):  A lot of people believe we`ve been in an impeachment inquiry ever since we started looking into potential high crimes and misdemeanors and the misconduct of the executive branch.  Other people thinking impeachment query doesn`t begin until you actually have articles of impeachment.  I would say we are in an impeachment investigation.

REPORTER:  Going to court today -- is this an escalation in your investigation?

NADLER:  It`s the next step in our investigation and, yes, I don`t know if you call this an escalation.

REP. VERONICA SANDERS (D-TX):  We are now officially entering into an examination of whether or not to recommend the articles of impeachment.  So, it`s -- we have crossed the threshold, I just wanted to make that real clear.

REPORTER:  Do you believe President Trump will ultimately leave office being impeached by this house, regardless of timeline?

NADLER:  I don`t know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Thank you very much.


MELBER:  You have a momentous briefing they`re ending with that shrug and the chairman walking offstage.  And one way to look at it is it`s vividly honest.  You asked him, what is this?  He says, call it what you want.  You ask him, well, what will it lead to and he says, I don`t know. 

Are there more answers here?  Well, we have an extraordinary guest right now to help understand what this Judiciary Committee is doing right now and why it might matter regardless of what it`s called. 

Jamie Raskin, a member of the House Judiciary Committee is here on THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW.

Thanks for joining us.

RASKIN:  I`m delighted to be with you, Ari.

MELBER:  Is this an impeachment probe? 

RASKIN:  Sure, we were just confronted with overwhelming evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors 10 episodes of obstruction of justice presidential candidate is campaign welcoming with open arms foreign interference in our presidential election.  You know, if Bill Clinton can be impeached for telling one lie about sex, that`s low crimes and misdemeanors.  This is in the category of high crimes and misdemeanors, and we`re investigating it and we`re trying to figure out whether these are high crimes and misdemeanors that justify impeachment. 

But I would say that our investigated future involves a lot of other issues.  You know, I think the American public has the sense that money is really at the heart of the Trump White House and he has essentially converted the presidency into an instrument of self enrichment a money- making enterprise basically for himself and his business and his friends, and that`s what the whole federal government has turned into.

And so, we need to investigate whether the foreign Emoluments Clause, Article 1, Section 9, Clause 8 has been violated and is being violated every day.  There have been reports that different foreign governments have basically been filling Donald Trump`s pockets through the Trump hotel, through the office tower, through the golf courses.  There`s the domestic Emoluments Clause which says that he`s limited to receiving his salary.  We can`t increase it, we can`t decrease it.  And yet every time they go to Mar-a-Lago, for example, they`re spending $75,000 or $100,000 that goes directly from federal government agencies and departments to the Trump hotel. 

So, that I would say should be the beginning of following the money but we remember that Donald Trump said that he would basically blow up the special counsel investigation if they looked at his finances.  He`s not going to be able to hamstring.  The U.S. Congress in the same way.  We`re going to get to the bottom of all of it. 

MELBER:  Do you think there`s a high crime that the president obstructed justice?

RASKIN:  Well, certainly, multiple times.  Each one of those episodes describe -- 

MELBER:  So, if that`s the case, let me press you on that, because I think everything you just laid out viewers would say, yes, that sounds bad and certainly in the Congress`s ambit to do something about it.  But why would that require any further delay? 

There is a -- there is a concern that the Democratic Party in the House talked a lot about waiting for things waiting for Mueller to finish, and waiting to get the report and waiting to get Mueller to testify.  We are now past all of that and so a conversation about the Trump Hotel or, you know, legitimate concerns about constitutional limits on form bribes make sense, but not necessarily as a reason to wait further to deal with whether or not there`s consequences for what you define as obstruction.

RASKIN:  Yes.  Well, I`m not talking about waiting.  I`m talking about aggressively accelerating our investigation and to all of the corruption and criminality that pervade the White House an executive branch of government and most people understand, despite Donald Trump being able to gerrymander the subject matter of the Mueller investigation, that all of that started because Donald Trump wanted to build a -- make a billion dollar deal for a Trump Tower in Moscow, and meantime was collecting money that was being laundered from Russian oligarchs through the hotels and through the various businesses. 

That was the genesis of the relationship with the Russians.  It was not a political conspiracy as Mueller found.  You know, if Vladimir Putin and Russian intelligence did not need Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump to execute their plot against America, they just used at the Trumps but they didn`t conspire with the Trump`s to make it happen. 

Unfortunately, the Trump`s never called FBI.  They just said, come on in and you know find the emails and dump the WikiLeaks and so on.  But, look, money was at the heart of it and money continues to be at the heart of it, and there`s a very important constitutional principle here.  Our founders wanted the president United States and every member of Congress to be 100 percent devoted to the public interest of the American people, and not to Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates and Azerbaijan and Turkey, and any government that comes over that decides to fill the president`s coffers. 

And the presidency is not supposed to be a money-making operation.  We`ve got to vindicate that principle, but I agree with you, we`ve got to do it quickly.

MELBER:  Did you learn anything from Bob Mueller`s testimony that was not in the Mueller report?

RASKIN:  No, everything -- I read the Mueller report I think three or four different times, and he stuck extremely closely to the text.  I think he opened up a bit in the afternoon, when he was willing to say that all of the presidents conduct was unpatriotic and unethical and immoral.  There he`s strayed, you know, a couple of feet beyond the four corners of the text.

But basically what he recited to us and confirmed for us were all of these episodes of obstruction of justice with Michael Cohen, where they called him up to try to butter him up to say, you know, stay on the team, stick to the party line.  And when he decided, he couldn`t lie anymore, he spilled his guts and told the truth about Donald Trump and the payoffs to Stormy Daniels and so on.  At that point, they turned on him and you know Trump basically threatened and drop a dime on him saying we know about your father-in-law and we know about this member of your family and that member of your family. 

You know if the president`s got evidence of criminality among his staff or friends, he should turn it over to the FBI and not hold it in store as a form of leverage against them to keep them from testifying against him.  That`s what mob bosses do.

MELBER:  Congressman Jamie Raskin from the House Judiciary Committee, on a night when you`ve been busy in making news, really appreciate you joining us.

RASKIN:  Thank you for following the story and I hope everybody out there gets some comfort that in the Article 1 branch, we are zealously going to uphold and defend the Constitution.

MELBER:  You heard it here and I wish you a good a good evening as well.

Let me tell you what else we have in store tonight.  The Democrats are looking at this as a court battle.  We have some experts on how it`s really going to go down.

Later as mentioned, this breaking news late on a Friday about the border wall from the Supreme Court.  We have that.

A lot to get to on this very busy evening.  Stay with us.


MELBER:  Sometimes, history moves slowly.  Other times, it takes 13 minutes.  On March 1st, 1974, Judge John Sirica entered the courtroom in Washington, D.C.  The foreman of the Watergate jury carried a large old- fashioned black briefcase, the sort with accordion folds at the bottom, and a carrying handle at the top, and inside was one indictment and one sealed report. 

When a special prosecutor Leon Jaworski`s deputies handed over a second briefcase, it was locked and over stuffed, according to the account in "The New York Times".  And the whole thing took some 13 minutes.  Inside the second briefcase where transcripts of testimony, subpoenaed documents, White House tapes and other items of grand jury evidence, along with what is now known as the road map.  The House Judiciary Committee was considering impeaching Richard Nixon.  They wanted what was in that briefcase.  They wanted that grand jury material. 

Sounds a little familiar and I could tell you, a month later, March 18th, 1974, all that material went to the House, the grand jury stuff, because this third branch of government the judiciary was backing up another branch of government, the Congress in its co-equal authority of considering impeachment, specifically the judge ordering the materials to go to the House, which means that order has the force of law.  The judge ruling that based on the contents, there was really no question regarding their materiality to the House Judiciary Committee`s investigation. 

The echoes today are in these new filings that we`ve been reporting on.  Congress invoking one of its strongest authorities and separation of powers.  A check on a potentially criminal executive to pry loose the yes, grand jury material on the Mueller report.  Now, that doesn`t mean it`s easy. 

The so-called roadmap that was stuffed inside that briefcase and presented to Judge Sirica in `74, that took 44 years before I was ever unsealed, and only after a SWAT team of legal analysts went to the court to get it.  Fun fact: the federal judge who ordered that roadmap to be unsealed, Judge Beryl Howell, is the same federal judge of the House Judiciary Committee appealed to today in this newfound quest to get grand jury material from the Mueller case. 

So there are some notable similarities here, as well as some differences.  And here to help us understand is a member of the SWAT team that got that Watergate roadmap ultimately unsealed, I`m joined by "Lawfare" editor-in- chief Ben Wittes, as well as Joyce Vance, former U.S. attorney.

Good to see you both.



MELBER:  Hey there.  

So, Ben, let`s start with you.  You were responsible for getting that roadmap unsealed for the public.  Now, it didn`t take four decades for Judge Sirica to turn over the grand jury evidence.  So, walk us through how you see all this.

WITTES:  Right.  So as you said in your introduction, there`s a -- there`s some substantial similarities.  There are also some important differences between this situation and the unsealing of the roadmap.  So the biggest difference is that in the case of the original roadmap, it was the prosecutor that wanted to turn it over to the Congress, and to the House Judiciary Committee.  And the House Judiciary Committee said sure give it to us it`s relevant to our impeachment inquiry.

Here you have a slightly different situation where the prosecutor wanted to give them everything except the stuff they wanted to redact and they have no particular -- the Justice Department has no particular interest in turning over the sealed grand jury material in here.  And so, I don`t think you would have in this situation the Justice Department would really resist the production of that material I think in all likelihood that the committee is asking for. 

On the other hand, as you point out, that there are some real similarities here and one of them got more similar today when the House Judiciary Committee and House leadership said, hey, I know we haven`t called this an impeachment inquiry but it kind of is an impeachment investigation and that actually has legal significance because the reason the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals allowed that transmission in was that there was an impeachment inquiry going on.  And so, by situating the current request as part of an impeachment investigation, the Democratic leadership makes it more similar to the proceeding that took place in Judge Sirica`s courtroom.

MELBER:  Right.  I mean, this is a clearly strong precedent to supersize the request that that Congress already can make.

Joyce, the other part of this that is different is you can make a broad argument that this time around, they got the road map.  The Mueller report is the road map.  It`s hundreds of pages and while Mueller spoke very carefully as he warned he would, he told everyone he was going to be a hostile witness, that`s why there was a subpoena. 

We have reason to believe that his prosecutors and the experts who helped write that report saw it as a road map because several sections made the case that the evidence showed the president committed crimes in office.  To use the language of the Mueller report, as you know, Joyce, substantial evidence in five or more cases of obstruction.

So is it better to have a road map without the grand jury material if Congress wants to do something about it?

VANCE:  You know, it`s better to have both and I think Congress is now entitled to have both.  What we`re talking about here is the grand jury material that was redacted in the Mueller report.  Prosecutors call that 6E for shorthand.  That`s the rule that governs disclosure of grand jury material, and that rule says that it can be released either preliminary to or in connection with a judicial proceeding.

An impeachment is a judicial proceeding.  So, today, the Judiciary Committee has clarified that they`re involved in a process that`s preliminary to that judicial proceeding and I think that they`re entitled to get the material.  It`s also important for them to get it.

This is not just grand jury material.  It can be documents and other materials connection pursuant to grand jury subpoenas without having seen that and been behind the veil of all of those redacted comments and the Mueller report, we don`t know how valuable that is, but Congress is entitled to find out and I expect that a court will order this on an expedited basis.

MELBER:  And, Joyce, do you think there`s grand jury material that could change anything fundamental?  I mean, I was sitting in the back of that Mueller hearing room on Wednesday and one of the reasons that I think so many people said, well, is that it -- is that all, was that everyone basically stuck to their points.  We saw some Democrats as I mentioned the top of this show moved towards impeachment.

But in that room, you had a lot of Democrats who are already basically for impeaching this president, including Mr. Nadler.  We know that from his House vote last week.  You had Republicans who are critical.  You had Mueller holding the line.

Is there something in the grand jury material that moves things do you think? 

VANCE:  You know, I suspect that there`s some good information.  There a lot of people kept saying in advance of the Mueller hearing that they were looking for the movie version of the report and it`s clear that Mueller doesn`t win any Academy Awards for best dramatic actor.  But what happens here is the report is maybe a sleeper documentary in that Academy Awards hunt, and the grand jury material prosecutors don`t go into grand jury with a witness unless there`s something important that they need to pin down.

MELBER:  Right.

VANCE:  Something important that they want to preserve.

So not getting that full flavor means Congress may be lacking some of the best evidence the most sensitive information.  If I were in Congress, I`d be demanding this material too.  I expect it will be productive. 

MELBER:  We`re almost out of time, but, Ben, to Joyce`s point, rarely do you see great method actors appearing under subpoena.  I mean, there were a lot of clues that Mr. Mueller was not going to give much of what some were hoping for.

WITTES:  There sure were.  So anybody who expected Bob Mueller to be charismatic and narrative and really sort of tell the story in a capacious fashion has no experience with Bob Mueller.  He is -- that is not who he is and to the extent that we kind of conditioned our expectations of what FBI director testimony sounds like based on to these sort of dramatic testimonies by Jim Comey, we were, you know, not considering who Bob Mueller really is. 

That said he, you know, clearly, there`s a lot of, if you -- if you take the time to listen to extended passages of it, he -- the Democrats on that committee both of those committees did a relatively good job in my opinion of drawing out in these extended segments, you know, important factual information in that report.  And I do think that exercise was valuable for people who really want the full extended dance version dramatic of the report.

You know we have a podcast called the report that`s been trying to do exactly that.

MELBER:  Ben Wittes, going right into the podcast plug, you know Rachel is a big -- Rachel`s a big podcast person.  So, I think you did that on the right on the right show.

WITTES:  She was very good to us last week. 

MELBER:  So, you`re right in the right spot and I know as you mentioned it`s the report if people want to check that out.  Joyce Vance, former U.S. attorney and professor at University of Alabama Law School, appreciate both of your expertise tonight.

WITTES:  Thank you.

MELBER:  Thank you, guys.

We have a lot more to get to and that breaking news out of the Supreme Court, which is next.


MELBER:  Much of the political center of gravity this week has been fixed of course on the Mueller testimony Wednesday, then on the House Judiciary Committee`s response this morning.

But there`s another question that has been looming.  Will the president be allowed to use money allocated for the Defense Department to build hundreds of miles of wall on the southern border?  The White House had been blocked from using any of that money from a smack-down by a lower court that said this $2.5 billion Pentagon dollars could not just be moved that only Congress can appropriate and make that kind of decision.

Now, when appealing the ruling, the administration first said they needed the money by early July.  Then they found a workaround which said Supreme Court could actually go until July.  So, the DOJ asked the Supreme Court to rule by today on this frozen money for the border wall. 

And late this evening, the conservative majority on the Supreme Court gave a narrow ruling, 5-4 vote.  Court saying the border wall money will not be stopped for now, and the majority gave a reason and it`s not an endorsement of the wall, but rather, a rejection of the people bringing the case, saying they didn`t have the right legal status to challenge the matter in court.  That doesn`t mean the Supreme Court`s affirming that this use of the money is definitely constitutional, but instead that to the extent that these are the people suing they were the wrong people.

And tonight, some of those very people associated with the Sierra Club and other groups say they will keep fighting the construction of the wall.  They say this is not over, and there are, of course, open cases.  Now, as a matter that began as a standoff between a president who wanted this money for a wall, a Democratic House that said no, there are a lot of other folks reacting to this news, including what the role is in fighting this administration`s seizure of this funding. 

So, let`s turn now to Democratic Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois, a member of the House Oversight Committee, which has been dealing with the administration`s handling of the southern border, among other issues.

Thank you so much for being here.


MELBER:  What does it mean that the Supreme Court says this money can actually be used for now, but they haven`t ruled on the merits as we say of the larger question?

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  Well, it looks like they may have even hinted what they`re going to do in the underlying lawsuit.  They said that the plaintiffs appear not to have standing, in this case, environmental groups.  But the second thing that I would just point out is I believe that the government should not win on the merits of the underlying lawsuit mainly because they need to show that Congress had not already denied funding for the purpose for which they`re seeking the funding, in this case, a border wall. 

You know back in the January, February time frame, we had the longest partial government shutdown in history, and it was very clear coming out of that that Congress did not want to provide funding for the border wall.  They only appropriated a fraction for certain borders secure securing measures, but not the wall specifically.  And so, the third point I would just make is that I think this sets a bigger precedent than just in this case, namely, that the executive can basically misappropriate money by declaring a national emergency.  And this is a very bad precedent for the future.

MELBER:  Yes, I mean, isn`t that just the obviously wild part of all this even though this is as I mentioned a little narrow ruling and that the president seemed to suggest on Twitter, no shocker there.  But if a couple bill can be moved around, then what`s the stopping a president removing 10 bill or a hundred bill.  I mean, you know sometimes it comes down to common sense, and if the scale were a dollar or a cup of coffee that you guys didn`t appropriate I think reasonable people might say leave it alone. 

But if it`s three bill, what`s to stop a hundred bill and at that point doesn`t that completely undercut Congress`s independent taxing and spending authority?

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  Well, the power of the purse belongs to Congress, and what this ruling does is that they basically eviscerates that power.  Now, interestingly back in the April-May time frame, you might remember the House and the Senate in bipartisan majorities voted to disapprove of the declaration of the emergency by the president, interestingly in the Senate, 12 Republicans joined with Democrats.  So, fifty-nine members of the Senate voted to basically disapprove of this declaration of the emergency, not enough for a filibuster proof of a majority which you need -- which needs 60 votes however very close. 

The question is whether any Republican senators were hanging back, expecting the courts to basically smack down the president`s declaration, now that we`ve seen what`s happening in the courts, whether there might be some additional votes in the Senate to go forward with the filibuster-proof majority, disapproving this national declaration of an emergency. 

MELBER:  I`m realizing filibuster-proof majority, hard to get, hard to say. 

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  But there`s got to be a better word, there`s got to be a better word.

MELBER:  I mean, lawyers and politicians you know always have extra fancy terminology.  But we`re keeping up with you.  The filibuster of being something that as you mentioned you have to get over if you want to do some of the accountability, and you have this president.

Congressman, I know you`ve been all over this issue, and I really appreciate you walking us through some of it tonight.

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  Absolutely.  I`m going to the border on Wednesday of next week and, you know, it`s really sad what`s happening down there.  I want to see how our monies that were newly appropriated are being used.  We can`t treat people the way we`re treating them at the border right now.

MELBER:  I appreciate you`re saying that and I think it`s also an educational reminder for us.  We use the term recess lightly.  It sounds like you`re using your recess out of Washington next week to go to work and do oversight.  I`ll say on behalf of MSNBC, I think we`d love to keep up with you and learn what you`re finding out there.


MELBER:  So, again, Congressman, thank you.

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  Yes, sir.  Thank you.  Thank you, Ari.

MELBER:  We have much more ahead.  Stay with us.



FRANK PENTANGELI, ACTOR:  I was in the olive oil business with his father, but that was a long time ago.  That`s -- 


MELBER:  Good old Frank Pentangeli, a character from "The Godfather II" where he plays a mobster-turned-congressional witness who then folded under threat.  Frank is a character who personifies witness tampering, which is why it seems so dumb for Trump advisor Roger Stone to invoke him as sort of a totem of a felony while allegedly bullying Randy Credico out of testifying about Stone to Congress.  Prosecutors also found it important they quoted that very reference in the case against Stone.  The case includes a charge of tampering with a witness.

When Stone was indicted in January, Bob Mueller`s team allegedly told Credico to do a Frank Pentangeli for the House Intelligence Committee, meaning hide what he knew or lie to Congress.  Mr. Stone is fighting all the charges and he has explained to "Godfather" reference as a nod to Randy Credico`s own impressions.

In addition to interviewing Julian Assange, Credico is a comedian who does do impressions.  In fact, when I`ve interviewed Credico about this very case on MSNBC, he told me that Stone is a liar, but he also broke out into some of his impressions during the news interview.


RANDY CREDICO, RADIO HOST:  You`re going to do a Tricky Dick or Richard Nixon on me.

MELBER:  You mean that was a lie.

CREDICO:  He`s a trickster. 


CREDICO:  Roger Stone is a shady character, OK?  I know Roger Stone and I`m doing my Reagan right now. 

MELBER:  It`s not -- 

CREDICO:  Well, you know he worked for Nixon.


MELBER:  All kinds of impressions.

So, which is it a bizarre reference to those impressions or a menacing reference to the felony of witness tampering?  Roger Stone`s freedom may depend on the answer and while Mueller handed off this case to career prosecutors in Washington, they`re doubling down on this point that it was a felony and the "Godfather" proves it, and you could see this today in their new court filing, headline governance motion to admit movie clip, noting Stone urged Credico to start practicing his Frank Pentangeli, adding, sure, I know Roger Stone, he was in the olive oil business with my father, but that was a long, long time ago.  So I told them, Roger Stone this, Roger Stone that.

And prosecutors are calling Stone on his drama here, saying, since he brought this up as the foundation of what he told a witness to do, they intend to show jurors exactly what Stone is referring to, adding to not show the clip at trial with deprive jurors, a significant context for understanding critical messages in this case.  In "The Godfather" series, the message was lie to the Feds, lie to the prosecutors, lie to Congress or somebody gets hurt.

Now, prosecutors are telling Roger Stone, quote, that gangster attitude as your mantra at your own peril.


PENTANGELI:  I was in the olive oil business with his father, but that was a long time ago.  That`s a long time.  I keep saying, Michael Corleone did this, and Michael Corleone did that.  So, I`d said, yes, sure.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  President Carter today signed into law a bill to preserve what he called this country`s crown jewels, the vast wilderness areas of Alaska.  Now, here is Alaska and here are the parts now affected, one-third of the whole state.

It sets aside for conservation an area larger than the state of California by designating about 100 million acres for new parks and wildlife areas.  The United States has as of today double the size of its national park system.


MELBER:  December 1980, President Carter signs a law that expansion of protected lands.  It dramatically helped the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge or ANWR, a 19 million acre expanse of pristine land in northern Alaska which is largely populated by native communities, polar bears, caribou.  The refuge also happens to sit on top of the largest known oil reserves in North America, billions of barrels.

In the 40 years since Carter signed the law, the refuges remain free of drilling despite many interests and Republican administrations.  But now, that whole status is in jeopardy.  When Trump passed that tax cut at the end of 2017, the legislation he signed included a provision to open up about one and a half million acres of the refuge to oil and gas leasing.

Now, investigative reporter Adam Federman reports in "Politico" the administration is rushing to get those leases approved by the end of the year despite the way this is supposed to work, objections from career scientists who are part of a mandated environmental review.  Documents leaked to "Politico" reveal the work of the career scientist has been altered or disregarded, to underplay the impact of the oil and gas development. 

The leaked documents show biologists conclusion reversed from saying the impacts of seismic surveys on polar bears were potentially harmful to a finding that the impact would be, quote, less than significant.  Another employee surprised to find an entire paragraph some potential impacts to native communities, including environmental justice concerns were scrubbed.  Also reporting a third scientist who studies fish and water, noting the fundamental inaccuracies have been introduced into his section without his knowledge.

Now, this is not the first report of the Trump administration burying climate science data.  Rachel has extensively covered efforts underway at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Bureau of Land Management to move career scientists and experts out of Washington and into places like Kansas or Colorado in a transparent effort to just hollow out the agencies, deplete them of the nonpartisan employees who actually have the scientific expertise.  Now, this explosive report is the latest that shows something about this trend line. 

The administration not only rushing to undo basically years of policy to prevent the oil drilling there, but also willingness to basically scrub scientific findings of the nonpartisan career scientists to speed up a process that otherwise might not be happening.  As promised earlier in the show, Adam Federman, the investigative journalist and reporting fellow with Type Investigations who was in this story here reporting this out for political in that partnership is here.

Thank you so much for being here.


MELBER:  Break it down.  These Trump officials are overriding scientific environmental concerns about how this should work in ANWR? 

FEDERMAN:  Yes, you know, it`s worth pointing out that this administration has been hell-bent on conducting a lease sale in the Arctic wildlife refuge before the end of this year, even though the tax bill gives them through 2021 to conduct a more complete and thorough review of potential impacts. 

And, you know, what my reporting shows is that the Department of the Interior has changed and in at least one case modified the conclusion of career BLM scientists charged with evaluating the impacts of these seismic surveys on wildlife, on native communities and other resources. 

And the department has yet to explain how these changes were made, who authorized them and what it says about the larger process. 

MELBER:  Right. 

FEDERMAN:  And the effort to --


MELBER:  Yes.  Let me ask you this: Do the scientists see this as basically a binary bad thing or as a thing where even if it`s not ideal to drill, if it were done through science on the right timeline, it might be less damaging to those populations we mentioned? 

FEDERMAN:  I think career scientists at the Bureau of Land Management and Fish and Wildlife Service understand that they`re going to be working under Republican and Democratic administrations with very different priorities, and they`re perfectly willing to carry out their duties.  But they`re going to do it in a responsible way.  You know, that`s their mandate. 

And I think what we see in these documents and in other reporting around pushback from the Fish and Wildlife Service is that the department and the administration is pushing this forward at such speed that they`re cutting corners and sacrificing science. 

MELBER:  And so, what happens next in a nutshell? 

FEDERMAN:  So, the department says it plans to release the final draft of the environmental impact statement next month and at that point, they can schedule a lease sale for sometime later this year.  You know, environmental groups will likely sue, but it remains unclear if that will be enough to delay or postpone the first-ever lease sale in the refuge. 

MELBER:  It`s an important and historic story, and we are truly grateful for your investigative reporting, as shown.  It really matters in helping understand where this is going and how the administration is doing it. 

Adam Federman, thank you so much. 

FEDERMAN:  You`re welcome. 

MELBER:  Appreciate it. 

And we will be right back. 


MELBER:  That does it for us tonight.  I`ll see you again if you tune in at 6:00 p.m. Eastern on my show, "THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER".  I`m wishing you a wonderful weekend. 

And now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD".  Joy Reid is in for Lawrence tonight. 

Good evening, Joy.                                                                                                                  THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END